Focus on working together, instead of dwelling on divisions, Africans urged
INSTEAD of dwelling on factors that divide the continent, Africa’s inhabitants should focus on working together.
“Why are we talking about socio-economic issues when we have crops and gold? We shouldn’t be talking about xenophobia. Africans should be talking about how we avoid a situation where our resources are stolen and it goes out of the continent to benefit other countries. Let’s look at the bigger picture,” said Anele Ndlovu, President of the Zimbabwe-SA Forum.
He was speaking at the inaugural launch of the Voices 360 Dialogue hosted by Independent Media in Joburg.
He joined representatives within the Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Malawi, Congo and Somalia Diaspora who met with academics and community members to engage in a robust discussion on their experiences of xenophobia, its root causes, and how it can be mitigated.
Ndlovu said Africans did not understand the value chain system.
“We don’t know how to reconcile our own wealth. That is a big problem,” he said, adding that no one benefited when Africans fought each other.
Ndlovu also highlighted that black-on-black hatred needed to end.
“If the Americans, Chinese, Indians were attacked, we would call this xenophobia. But it’s strange that Africans bow down when Europeans land in the country, but when a Zimbabwean lands next door, he or she is beaten to a pulp. These are issues we need to look at closely,” he said.
Marc Gbaffou, African Diaspora Forum chairperson, said just as South Africans acted collectively against racism, they should speak out against xenophobia.
“Why is it South Africans spend so much time defining the violence?” Gbaffou asked.
He said embattled KwaZuluNatal estate agent Penny Sparrow was taken to task over her comments. He said the same needed to happen when non-nationals were maimed and killed just for being from another country.
Attacks on foreign nationals in 2008 in Alexandra township introduced what many now refer to as black-on-black hatred.
These attacks had not stopped throughout the years, and had been attributed to socio-economic issues, among other things.
The chairperson of the South African chapter of the All Nigerian Nationals in the Diaspora, Emeka Johnson, highlighted that his home country was the most vilified migrant nation in South Africa.
“Nigerians are being given the picture of being the most notorious migration in SA, but this is a fallacy. Nigerians are found in every nook and cranny of the continent, and contribute immensely,” he said.
Malawian national Moses Chume explained that members of their community were constantly hounded by the police, and that intervention was needed.
Human Rights Commission research adviser to advocate Ncumisa Willie, Bongani Majola, said once issues of socio-economic rights were discussed, the country would go a step further in addressing the scourge of xenophobia.
“There are communities where non-nationals and South Africans live peacefully. In instances where attacks have happened, there have been South Africans who have gone out of their way in assisting foreign nationals. These are instances we can look at and learn from and ask ourselves what are the conditions for peaceful co-existence between South Africans and non-nationals,” she said.